Nothing happens by chance in professional cycling, and Lukas Pöstlberger believes in destiny, so much so he has the word 'Fatum' ("fate" in Latin) tattooed on his chest.
The 25-year-old Austrian rider took his first major professional victory in Olbia with his improvised late surge off the front during the opening stage at the Giro d'Italia. Not only did he become the first maglia rosa of the 100th Giro, he became the first Austrian stage winner and race leader. He also pulled on the best young rider white jersey and the cyclamen points jersey, while his teammate Cesare Benedetti took the blue climber's jersey after being in the break of the stage.
Peter Sagan is the undisputed star of the Bora-Hansgrohe team, yet Pöstlberger suddenly gave them their biggest win of the 2017 season and the team has hit the jackpot, leaving all the sprinters disappointed and a little embarrassed.
Pöstlberger could hardly believe what was happening as he pulled on the pink jersey on the podium and was still stunned as he talked to the media in the post-race press conference.
"I believe in destiny, I believe there's a reason for everything," he said, showing his Fatum tattoo to journalists.
"You never know what's coming, but you've always got to be ready for it. Now we'll see what will happen. For sure this win and this pink jersey will change my life and my career.
"For me, it's obviously the biggest result in my career. I can't really understand what I've done. I'll need weeks or glasses of wine to understand it. We went for the win today but it wasn't planned I'd do it, but that's cycling, it's about faith and desire. I believe in that."
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Pöstlberger explained that teammate and sprinter Sam Bennett shouted at him to keep going after he opened a gap on the peloton in the final kilometre.
"I heard there was a crash on the corner. We wanted to hit it from the front and so I was up there. Then suddenly I had a gap. Sam told me over the radio but I honestly thought they'd chase me down. Then I heard the team tell me to go for it, so I did."
Lessons on life from Peter Sagan
Pöstlberger was a little embarrassed when it was suggested he has overshadowed team leader Sagan. He knew that the world champion had congratulated him via Twitter and insisted they were all part of a united team.
"We have Peter and he's the most successful rider on earth, but he's not on his own," he said.
"He supports us and we support him. Sometimes he doesn't need our support, but the team always works together. We win as a team and lose as a team."
Pöstlberger rode the cobbled Classics alongside Sagan. He helped save the team's pride by finishing a solid fifth at E3 Harelbeke while Sagan struggled as his rivals combined against him. He also learned a lot as a rider and as a person.
"The biggest thing that Peter taught us so far is that it's only cycling, that you should have fun, too, and that you don't die if you don't do well. There's always something positive you can take away from a race. Even when it was snowing at the Tour de Romandie last week I learned something…"
Pöstlberger's riding in the Classics helped secure him a place in the Bora-Hansgrohe team for the Giro d'Italia. He was 50-50 for a place, but destiny stepped in, brought him to Sardinia and then off the front in the final kilometre and into the first pink jersey of the 100th Giro d'Italia.
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